Recently, the Barbican, an arts space in London, cancelled an art installation show called “Exhibit B” because they worried about the safety of the actors in it.
The night of the show’s opening, protesters blockaded the entrance to the Vaults, where the installation was being staged. The mostly black crowd accused the Barbican and “Exhibit B’s” creator, Brett Bailey, of racism. The protesters were loud, but peaceful. According to the Guardian, no arrests were made.
The protesters were bothered by the extreme realism of “Exhibit B,” which recreates the human zoos used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to parade enslaved Africans throughout Europe. Their concerns were reminiscent of objections to Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained.
Django was marked by depraved, blood-thirsty violence — obviously fake, and obviously done for titillation, but disturbing all the same.
When describing the opening scene of Django, author Roxane Gay wrote: “Braids of scar reach from their shoulders to their lower backs, revealing the director’s fetish for the broken bodies of slaves; as if only through such explicit visual evidence can a viewer understand the horrors of human bondage. Things only grow darker from there.”
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